Philosopher-defendant fails to ‘save my own skin’ at robbery trial

Eric Noe
Eric Noe

An accused bank robber represented himself but was convicted during a trial this week in Richmond.

Eric T. Noe, 39, was found guilty Wednesday of first-degree bank robbery. Noe acted as his own defense attorney during the two-day trial. In an August motion filed in the court record, Noe wrote that he felt his defense attorney “is working for the prosecution.”

Noe, who studied philosophy, wrote in another motion seeking release from jail so he could prepare his defense: “I will consider this an ultimate and enduring test and testament of my skill and ability as a philosopher, for if I cannot save my own skin via argument, then I am completely worthless, an utter failure, as such.”

Commonwealth’s Attorney David Smith said it was the first time in 30 years with the prosecutor’s office that he had seen a defendant represent himself during a trial.

The jury returned a guilty verdict after about 30 minutes of deliberations, Smith said.

Noe was charged in the July 2015 robbery of Chase Bank on Richmond’s Main Street, across the street from the county courthouse. Employees told police at the time that a man entered the bank, approached a teller and delivered a note demanding money.

No weapon was brandished but the robber, whose face was partially covered, implied that he had one, police said at the time.

After receiving an undisclosed amount of cash, the robber ran through a side door that faces South First Street. Bank employees provided police a description of the man and his clothing.

Within minutes, an officer detained Noe near his apartment in the 200 block of West Water Street, less than two blocks from the bank.

Police obtained a search warrant for Noe’s apartment, where they found a backpack containing stolen cash and a box cutter, plus several items of clothing that matched descriptions of what the robber was wearing.

The jury recommended a sentence of 20 years in prison. Madison Circuit Judge William Clouse scheduled sentencing for April 28.